what is woman?

mariah

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woman is the ultimate creator.  she is the portal in which new life flows out of.  she is foundation and naturally the epitome of what is essential to world peace, love and compassion. her instinct bears nurturing tendencies while offering the perfect combination of love and discipline to a child.  to the unconditioned mind and society, woman is love, woman is perfect. i witness these attributes through my own mother and how she has chose to live her life.  whether it be unsolicited lectures, or chastisement of not fulfilling a certain responsibility around the house, she had created this balance of love, discipline, and education. 

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woman is hard and yet soft simultaneously. she has taken many blows from society’s manmade ego. her highly emotional and intuitive intelligence has been countered as weakness. it’s as though the woman’s greatest strength is what cripples her from being equal to man. but although she has survived through much oppression, her softness allows her to still love and support her oppressors. she is backbone and rib to the very thing that may drag her through mud. her tears and strength are the magical ingredients which brew her abilities to carry on and stay soft. this is a true testament to what i have personally experienced through both platonic and romantic relationships. because i feel so deeply and grounded to the forces of this universe, it makes for a very emotional spirit that can easily be looked upon as weak. i have internalized much of what this society says a woman should do, how she should look, and all around carry herself; thus subconsciously trying to align myself with these standards. just recently, about a few years ago, have i realized the true power of what it means to be woman. i think we’re pretty amazing when you strip away all the extra rules and regulations that have been put on our being. 

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woman is truth. unfortunately sometimes woman will subconsciously internalize the truth of someone else’s desires, diverting the path of her destiny. woman is pure. she releases a spirit of calmness and light into any room. she is the major attraction everywhere she goes.  Woman can tame even the roughest of seas, breaking down barriers that seek to lock her, woman is persistent.

what is woman?

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darsheel

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how can i express womanhood when my mother tongue was buried?

my fluid and expansive nature

violently torn into rigid, unrecognizable, colonial binaries of

male or female/straight or gay/american or foreign/- you can only be one or the other

these are not my categories. 

this isn't my language.


i come from sovereignty.

the blood of spiritual warriors.

lioness. princess.

waheguru.


spirits of mother earth and father sky.

ancient wisdom carried through the wombs of our grandmothers
that hip hop flow, creativity, swag

remixin lands and waters, tongues and ways of knowing and being

honoring those who came before, those here now, and those to come.


my womb is connected to the moon

and the waves, they move through

let them flow, bout all i can do

and i aint got nothin left to prove

kaur is my gender identity

who i am has more to it than that

i carry all the peoples who have poured into me

i belong to the earth, not any nationality

i don't pray to other gods

def not the constitution.

 

do my best to
always serve and love

be part of the solution

i wanna be known with my complexities, not put in a box

so here it is, i share with you

some of me and my thoughts.

 

hip.hop.kaur.

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what is woman...

kali block-steele

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woman is magnificent being wrapped in the arms of the cosmos.

she is all rage and fury. all soft and secure.

she is the being that can suffer with strength and

heal with brutal truth.

 

woman is wild — even when she cowers, cornered and afraid.

woman is wild because even when she is fearful,

she is calculated and calculating.

she is planning her escape

even as she trembles under the heat of your gaze.

 

wild woman is fierce in her softness,

formidable in her ability to love.

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woman will love you freely and more fully than you have ever known

because all women are wild.

and under the heavy layers of expectation,

all women love themselves, fiercely.

 

because woman is resilient, can bear the harshest of brutalities,

locking eyes with misfortune

until it cowers in her gaze.

 

because woman knows that despite it all

she is magnificent,

queenly,

deserving of fruitful love.

 

and when she knows, nothing will stop her from living her dreams,

harvesting her fruits.

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for woman is all love, all strength, all fury, all contradiction.

all without apology.

 

she knows she owes no sorries for her unboxable truth.

The universe never apologizes for its show of beauty

or its mysterious unleashing of might.

and what is woman but star stuff?

 

she glows like galaxies in the dark of night.

she shines like gold in the amber sun of day.

 

what is woman but magic made flesh.

what is woman?

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you cute for a fat girl...

gwen

“i just don't get it... why her? You can do so much prettier and finer, so much skinnier.” I think it was this time last year when i heard that exact comment being said about me to someone i cared about, from a “friend.”

after getting out of a toxic relationship where i was made to feel I wasn’t beautiful by him and those around him, i was at my lowest last winter. i didn’t want to go out. i felt like nothing looked good on me. i didn’t even want to be around men because i felt like i knew what they were all thinking. it’s not something i chose. even though it’s something i can change. and i haven’t always been plus sized. i remember the first time my mom told me that i would need to look in the “plus sized” section for an outfit because it would fit better (in all reality I only needed an xl) and i started to cry. how crazy is that? but what i can say now, at 22 years old, is that after getting the love and support from the people i cherish the most and taking the needed amount of time to self care, i got back to that place that i was in at the beginning of 2016. it took me such a long time to realize that not being a size 2 isn’t something to be ashamed of. it took me all the way up until last year when i moved to hawaii to cherish and love myself the way i should. being in a place where full figured women were respected and worshiped
the same as petite women was so refreshing.

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but now, mid summer 2017, i’m happier than ever and i don’t think i will ever let another man or person for that matter make me feel less than for the way i look or body i have. i was SO nervous to do this and absolutely terrified to post these, but that’s what it’s all about. loving yourself. i did this photoshoot because here today, i want to start a body positivity campaign. plus size/fuller women/bodies that aren’t looked at as “sexy” in today’s society are slowly but surely getting more representation in the media/fashion industry. but i know especially here in dayton it’s not represented nearly enough. i won’t be this size forever, but it’s the body I have now. and i’ll be damned if i don’t love every
single inch and curve!

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connect with gwen:

instagram: @_gwenola + twitter: @_gwenolabar + email: cgbrown95@icloud.com

what is woman?

leroy bean

this guest blog is by leroy bean, author of the love and theory of womanology. 

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a spoken word poet  from dayton, ohio starting my new artistic journey as leroy bean. after being apart of underdog academy for over 2 years, i have had the opportunity to perform at many colleges and universities such as ohio state university, ohio dominican university, university of cincinnati and more. i was the 2017 litfest poetry slam winner for the university of dayton and was chosen to be published in both their orpheus and writ literary magazines. i am the host of the underdog academy's expressions open mic and now i am finally releasing my second chapbook - the love and theory of womanology.

this complete project includes a chapbook with 37 poems, including a 7 poem series, 16 haiku's, and a pantoum. also includes an audio book that isn't your traditional read along on tape. the audio book is all put together over instrumentals to provide a completely separate experience from the chapbook itself even though the poems have not changed. one gives you room to implement your own imagination and the other sits you in the center of my imagination and feel for the project as a whole and the individual poems.  i've always approached my poems from a different perspective; creating story's or satirical poems to get my point across.

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in december 2016 I was inspired by music, conversation, and just consistent signs pointing me down this path to create a chapbook dedicated to woman. after reaching a new point on this journey for developing a better understanding for love and compassion for all life, i realized that i have been blinded by my male privilege. from the experience as a black male in america, i have witnessed oppression first hand and was able to transfer that comprehension to the relationship between man and woman. it was made clear to me how much of a habit sexism was alone and although i did not install this way of thinking on my own, it is still my responsibility to recognized my mistakes in order to grow as a human. this lead me to build a chapbook, metaphorically giving woman the power that was bestowed upon men, "in the beginning", with genesis by characterizing god as a woman that not just created but gave birth to the universe. also emphasizing on the characteristics that woman are deemed weak for, such as their love and support. also bringing important woman characters to the forefront such as mother nature, eve, and the roll of "the mother" in american society.

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upon the ending of the books creation it dawned on me that if i really wanted to help influence as much of the community as possible then I would have to bring the book to life. this lead to the event, "what is woman?" where I teamed up with ap2 photography and ted's own big dave to help bring the vision to life; men using their platform to help bring shine to the woman's perspective and experience. although this is a release event for my new chapbook, the book is far from being the face of the event. this premium art experience showcases nothing but the strength and struggles of women. using the power of art and it's influence on people, we dedicated paintings and photo shoots to the diverse beauty of woman and counter the countless shaming that society puts on women that don't fall within it's standards. what is woman? showcases female vendors and performers to portray the wide-range of talent that women have. It will be held in a business owned by a woman to show their strength and intelligence. what is woman? will challenge the audience with that very title by having a panel discussion to assure that the voice of the woman is heard. even if it is only in front of 50 to 100 people, i know it will still be effective because at the end of the day, communication leads to solutions and  seeds will get planted to initiate a ripple of change in the minds of the future. 

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what is woman will take place satuday, september 2 at third perk coffeehouse & wine bar in downtown dayton, ohio at 7:00pm. tickets are limited and are available to purchase on eventbrite, “includes the option to preorder the book as well.” 

the anatomy of a project

announcing: what is woman

coming september 2, 2017

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for the past couple of months I have been working on a project with leroy bean “formerly hyerxconscious” and long standing member of underdog academy and big dave scott of ted (the epitome of dope) called what is woman?

 the event takes place saturday, september 2, 2017 at third perk coffee house and wine bar in dayton, oh. and will have serve as a launching point for leroy’s debut chapbook: the love and theory of womanology. the chapbook is a collection of poems that explores the beauty, power and challenges that women face in every day life.

when leroy approached me about the project and provided me with a copy of the book to review there was no doubt that I had to be a part of it. his writings resonated with me on so many levels, forced me to think about the impact that my mother, wife, daughters, aunts and various women have had on my life as well as the positive/negative impact I may have had on women throughout my life.

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my role in the project was to do a series of portrait with women, “there will be a single image of each on display during the event.” during the sessions  i had open conversations with each of the women about various topics surrounding their personal struggles, triumphs and joys of womanhood ranging from body shaming, expectations, entrepreneurship,  motherhood and identity. these women and their stories will be featured on my blog/digital magazine ap2photography.com/blog on tdb and I highly recommend setting aside time to read them.

please come out to our event: what is woman? on september 2. there will be female vendors on hand and the event will consist of guest performances by spoken word artists siri Imani and azizza love of the blvck seeds, the photography of your’s truly ap2 photography, the artwork of big dave scott, the poetry of leroy bean and a much needed panel discussion whichwill provide us an opportunity to openly discuss the love and theory of woman.

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there are a limited number of tickets available which can be purchased here at: eventbrite.

you will also have an opportunity to purchase a copy of leroy bean’s chapbook: the love and theory of woman.

be sure to follow us at: for more details!

what is woman?

7:00pm - saturday, september 2, 2017

third perk coffeehouse & wine bar

cleavon by prophessorx

merely a man

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last night i had the honor and pleasure of attending my brother – cleavon’s (known to many as x or prophessorx) book release launch at third perk coffeehouse & wine bar in dayton, oh. to say that I’m proud of x would be an understatement. i’ve been fortunate enough to witness and observe a lot of growth and confidence in x as a man as well as in his poetry and writings.

the chapbook is titled: cleavon by prophessorx and consists of 20 different poems/haikus that are captivating, powerful, unapologetic and emotional. x performed a selection of these writings in front of a crowd of family, friends and fans of his work leaving them inspired and eager for more.

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If you are interested in purchasing a physical or ecopy of the book “which i highly recommend,” you can do so on his website proph3ssorx.com or by contacting him directly at proph3ssorx@icloud.com.

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follow x on his website: proph3ssorx.com on instagram @proph3ssorx and on soundlcoud.

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there’s a destiny that makes us brothers; no one goes their way alone. all that we send into the lives of others comes back onto our own.
— brotherhood

durand jones and the indications

MOtr pub - cincinnati oh

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i was introduced to durand jones and the indications music by my dude mike while digging through vinyl at omega records “my home away from home.” through the years mike has picked up on my taste of music which is quite similar to his so he always hits me with suggestions when i’m looking for something new. the self-titled album is hard to describe other than soulfully dope. perfect for vibing out and getting lost in yourself as well as with that special someone.

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when the opportunity to photograph their show at motr pub in cincinnati came up I jumped on it and i am so glad that i did! the venue gives you that close intimate feel and durand jones and the indications killed it. if they come your way I definitely suggest going to see them and if you haven’t heard their album check it out and let me know what you think!

you can view the full photo gallery here on cincymusic.

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it's ok?

lately I've been turned off by people accepting average when they've had the opportunity /capability to make something great. maybe i'm too demanding but i just don't get that mindset. i'm always pushing myself to achieve my best so i'm constantly looking for areas and opportunities to improve so i'm never accepting work that I'm "content" with or that i think is "ok."

i want my work to be dope, to leave an impact... i want to be better than i was yesterday and i make a point to surround myself around people that push me in that direction. push yourself to do your best at whatever it is you do, don't fall into the trap of accepting anything less than your absolute best.

average

typical; common; ordinary
— being average is overrated

christina + corry

this thing called love

on august 5, 2017 i had the pleasure of documenting christina and corry’s love story at mt. carmel baptist church in cincinnati, oh.

there’s a certain art to capturing the “true” dynamics of a couple. creating a mood and atmosphere that allows them to relax and enjoy each other and show their true personality. lately there’s been a trend with wedding pictures that have couples disengaged with a cold stoic look on their face. well i’ve never been one to follow trends but this one baffles me. this is one of the happiest days of their lives! i love it when my couples wrapped in each others arm, interacting with each other and fully engaged -  leaving no doubt that they are indeed in love!

i was able to capture christina and corry's affection for one another at eden park and the cincinnati art museum “it’s always great when coupled set aside the proper amount of time for creative portraits!” in between their wedding ceremony and their reception. during this time they were greeted with congratulations from people at the park and due the relaxed environment and my approach to documenting love stories we were able to create some dope images that christina and corry will be able to cherish for a lifetime and pass down through generations.

be sure to subscribe to the blog to see our next love story or contact me at aaron@ap2photography to contact me about documenting your happily ever after!
— aaron paschal

cook's row

by: rachelle smith

the line of store fronts are all smoky bbq, clattering feet and saxophone jazz.

on this busy NOLA street i hear a trumpet tribute as i twist the sign to “open” on my tiny eatery.

i wrap my head in a white scarf and pray by the door.

i want the spirits to eat just as well as we do.

ooo! ooo! ooo!

that gumbo appetite heat wave riot.

tap tap a full glass of water with ice.

summer air as spicy as my rice in tuesday’s blue special.

cook’s row is all people shadowy pavement with clustered conversations.

rat tat tat of a snare.

“giiiiirl!” from across the street there.

smell the louisiana breeze.

new as today.

old as voodou.

taste all the home cooking stories you hear.

 

rachelle smith

is a spoken word artist residing in dayton, ohio. words are her passion. her poetry and short stories are inspired by personal experiences, spirituality and the drive to move the reader emotionally. chelle also is an author, grade school teacher and graduate of miami university with a b.a. in creative writing.

connect with chelle: instagram - @sculpchelle | twitter @sculpchelle 

the pursuit...

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one thing i've learned about myself is that when i decide i want something or if i have a goal that i want to accomplish it consumes me. i focus on it and i go after it like crazy. understanding that i can't get everything that i want or accomplish every goal that i set but if i fall short it won't be because of lack of effort.

this past week was a perfect example of that. i won't get into the details yet but i realized that i wanted to do something that would require some help from people/companies that didn't even know i existed. everyday i made a point to reach out to at least three different outlets and now i seem to be in a position that far exceeds my initial goal.

yes, i worked hard towards my goal last week but the foundation was laid weeks/months/years ago. my grind is constant. i understand the importance of building and nurturing relationships and taking care of people.

 

in-no-cence

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cincinnati - summer 2017

in-no-cence: is the quality of having no experience or knowledge of the more complex or unpleasant aspects of life.

i took this image in cincinnati this summer and couldn't help but wonder where this little girl was going or where she was coming from. this was in the over the rhine area of cincinnati which is in a state of transition between low income and gentrification so it's a little rough right now.

she was all alone, riding her bike without a care in the world. me on the other hand? I worried about her, wanted to make sure she was ok and assure that she made it to her destination without incident. i wondered where she would go in life, what opportunities would come her way, "or elude her?"

patience + timing + faith

these three words come into play anytime you're working towards a dream or goal. at times it may seem like you're not getting anywhere or that you're constantly trekking uphill. most of the time success doesn't come easy or overnight, it takes sacrifice, dedication and a constant grind.

the key is to believe in yourself and trust the process... be patient.

things don't always happen when we want them to or when we think they should.  that doesn't mean that they won't, keep grinding and put yourself in position to take advantage of opportunities when the timing is right.

doubt can be your worst enemy. not from other people but from within. we have a tendency to hold ourselves back more often than not by second guessing ourselves. you have to believe in you, constantly challenge yourself to be a better you and have faith.

kill the city...

kill the city
whatever dreams or goals you have go about them with the mindset that you are going to kill the city!
— Aaron Paschal

it's funny to me when i hear people talk about "taking over the world" but never put forth any effort to make an impact in their current city/location. being from the gem city of dayton, oh i hear this all the time. i guess i just see things differently... there's not a lot of things here in dayton - which to me means there's tons of opportunities and potential. all you have to do is identify a need, devise a plan and put in work to make it happen. i know it's not as simple as it sounds but that's my approach to life. things may not all ways work out but if i believe in it i'm going to everything i can to see where it takes me. 

there are a lot of talented photographers in the dayton area. i consider myself one of them, "actually one of the best if i'm to be honest!" i have no desire to be average, i want my work and my images to make a statement. the "kill the city" picture that accompanies this article was taken on a photowalk i took this spring when i was out testing an old film camera i plan on taking on future trips. when i saw it this tagged on the sidewalk it immediately spoke to me. before i take on the rest of the world i need to kill the city that i'm in. by that i mean produce killer work that is known and respected throughout the city. to be the first name out of people's mouth "or keyboard" when they mention local photographers.

whatever dreams or goals you have go about them with the mindset that you are going to "kill the city!"